What is a doula? Do I need one?

world doula weekOver the last few days I’ve had the pleasure of sharing about The Haven. It’s been a joy to share what happens here with others and to share our desire to help make a difference in Dallas County. One of the questions I have had to explain multiple times is about our doula services. In honor of World Doula Week it makes sense to share a little more about the doula world.

This is directly from DONA.org, “The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period”

DONA and CAPPA are the two largest certifying groups for doulas. I completed my certification with DONA, but CAPPA is also a well known organization as both have high levels of standards and codes of ethics.

Besides all of that what does a doula do and mean for you? A doula in our day means a woman who will provide education during your pregnancy, helping to give you information so you can make informed decisions about your prenatal care and the birth of your baby. A doula will not make those decisions for you, but give you evidenced based information so you can make informed choices.

During labor and delivery a doula will stay by your side, helping with comfort measures, encouragement, and suggestions to help labor progress. A doula works with the partner, helping Dad to navigate the experience as well as to be the best supporter he can be. During this time a doula sometimes will help interpret what is going on and being said, making sure the family understands exactly what is going on. A doula will never speak for a family or make decisions for them, but will encourage a family to speak up for themselves and make their needs and wants known.

Once the baby is born a doula helps initiate breastfeeding, making sure the new mom is comfortable and settled. She will visit for the next two weeks to help make sure the new family is settling in well. A doula also watches for signs of post partum mood disorders, or other conditions which need medical care. A doula will not diagnose a condition but caution and suggest referrals.

2 weeks before the due date and for 2 weeks after the baby is born a doula stays “on call” for the family. 24/7. A doula stays close, helps answer questions and provides information to the family. During this time the last home visit is usually done. This last visit is a refresher for any birth plans or preferences, and to make sure the home is ready for the arrival of a baby.

This is a simple overview of what a doula is and what we do. It is a a service which is available through The Haven. This service is free of charge for any teen in Dallas County. It is important for teens to have someone who is there for them and a doula is an invaluable resource for a pregnant teenager. A doula can provide a sense of safety and resources which can assist a young woman in her time of need in a way few others can.

If you know a teen who could benefit from this service, a young woman who has more questions than answers, call The Haven. It would be our pleasure to sit down and talk about how doula services might benefit in your situation.

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